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Memories of a school tragedy

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Fifty years ago, Oct. 14 fell on a Tuesday, the day after Thanksgiving. And on that day, a junior high school in the city’s west end would suffer a tragedy that continues to haunt many of its student body to this day. Oakdale Junior High on Grandravine Drive., (now known as Oakdale Park Middle School), was the scene of a drunk driving incident when a driver violently mounted the curb of the sidewalk and rammed her car into a group of students.

How do I know? It was my junior high. The girl who was critically injured had been my classmate since Grade 4. The two young boys were connected through family members. And the girl who ran them over was barely 22 years old when, according to the Toronto Telegram, she would be charged with criminal negligence causing death and impaired driving.

The two boys were barely in their teens – Claudio Palermo was only 12 years old, while his friend, Pat Marzilli was 13 years old. Gudrun Wilck was 14, and various eyewitness accounts state Claudio had heroically shoved her out of the way before the car came barreling down upon them. Police reports state the boys were rammed through a heavy fence before finally coming to a stop.

Fifty years is a long time to carry the memories of a childhood tragedy, but – every time I’d run into an old school friend, the conversation would start with “do you remember the........

© The Telegram